This is nothing unusual in a final race before Chase scenario, but once he got out of the car and saw a microphone, Newman went in a direction many did not like.
Initially he just described the racing incident:
“The No. 14 (Tony Stewart) cut across my nose into Turn 1 and I got into him after that, but he’d already chopped into me and messed up my line and I clipped him a little bit coming off of (Turn) 2; but he just cut across my nose."
Then he went down the rabbit hole ... into a place he should have avoided.
"Going down the back straightaway there, I guess he thought he was in a Sprint Car again; did not know how to control his anger. ... It’s just disappointing that you’ve got somebody old like that, that should be retired the way he drives. It’s just ridiculous.”
And Newman wasn't done ...
“I only hit him in Turn 1 when he cut across my nose. So, I don’t think there was any reason other than him just being bipolar and having anger issues. Google Tony Stewart; you’ll see all kinds of things he’s done. Look it up. YouTube and everything else. Quite the guy.”
In case you missed the obvious there, Ryan went the super-low route of referring to the accidental death of Kevin Ward Jr. at Canandaigua Motorsports Park, in which Tony Stewart was involved. The incident was not intentional, and Tony took time off from racing to deal with the aftermath of this unfortunate incident, which no doubt affected him severely. For Newman to bring it up in this context of a Cup series racing incident, well, it's pretty classless.
I understand Newman was upset, and he doesn't have to be nice. Call Smoke all the cuss words you want and say he's a dirty driver. But to bring up this incident is not something that will go over well in the garage or with fans. Newman is known as a tough driver who will fight hard for every position and expects respect from his competition, but if you talk like this you are not going to get any respect on the track or off it (and definitely no Christmas cards).
Tony Stewart is a legend in this sport. He is retiring after a celebrated career as a champion. Yes he can rub people the wrong way (ask Brian Scott about last week), but you have to respect him as a competitor, and this was a racing deal that both Newman and Stewart contributed to. To take cheap potshots at Stewart is pretty weak, and don't forget Tony still owns a team so he'll be around for a long while. He has a lot of friends in the garage, so if you trash him you're basically guaranteeing a lot of people who know him are going to think very little of you.
While it made for good TV and some headlines, long-term this rant is a bad career move for Newman. His future is uncertain at RCR, and he hasn't done enough in his career for owners at top teams to overlook this type of lapse in judgment. I'm sure he'll be around for a while, but what kind of equipment will he be in? (I can guarantee it won't be another turn at SHR).
Tony was much more calm in his response, not calling any names, just admitting they had battled hard all night and in the end Newman was in his way and got moved as a result. He could've gone the Newman route and tossed out a low-blow insult. But he didn't. I'll miss that when Smoke is gone from the cockpit next year.
Some in the NASCAR community (including veteran driver Todd Bodine) were online Saturday night condemning Newman's remarks, saying they had lost all respect for Ryan. I'm guessing that's a popular view in many parts of the garage this morning.
So to Ryan Newman, I simply ask -- was it worth it?